Today was our first real exposure to the coffee industry in Costa Rica. We took tours of Doka Estates and Café Britt and learned about how they produce their coffee along with the business aspects of their respective companies. Doka Estates is a family run company that has been in business since 1940 while Café Britt is a corporation that has been in operation for the past 30 years. My group has the focus area of making which is the process of taking the coffee plant from the plantation, getting it to the appropriate stage for roasting, and then finally executing the roasting process.
However, before jumping straight into making the coffee, it is essential to understand what role the company has in the supply chain and how they go about measuring their successes. From the tour today and the meeting with a retail manager, I would place Café Britt as the manufacturer/distributor in the supply chain process. I did this because of a couple of reasons. One is that they primarily receive the coffee beans from local plantations and then do the final step in the making process, roasting, themselves. So, that would make the local plantations the upstream suppliers for Café Britt and then once they have the product they make it and distribute it to other countries and stores to sell to their downstream customers. That is why I would say that Café Britt is primarily plays the role of manufacturer/distributor in the coffee supply chain here in Costa Rica.
Now that a grasp on where they are in the supply chain has been obtained, it is also necessary to understand what the company stands for, their values, and how they measure success. The major takeaway I had after visiting Café Britt is that quality is the most important aspect to their coffee. They measure their quality with frequent taste tests of their product to ensure that they are only distributing the best possible coffee. Another way that Café Britt measures success is through customer satisfaction. For example, if a resident of the United States comes on the tour in Costa Rica and then orders coffee to be delivered to their house, that is an extremely successful scenario because they are allowing for their coffee to get into the homes of people around the world. The final aspect that I took away was that they are constantly trying to innovate their approach to sales and the way they sell their products. They want to make everything they do as efficient as possible which will lead to a more successful company and a better end product for the customer.
Regarding my topic, making, there are a couple of things that Café Britt do that allow them to achieve some of the beforementioned ways to be successful. A main way to make a gourmet and quality product is to use a very sustainable approach. One way they do this is to use natural products to fertilize the soil. This attempts to make their coffee as organic as possible. They also reuse the coffee packaging to make other products such as bags and other plastic products. This helps to eliminate the lack of byproducts going to waste. This compares to what Doka estates is doing in the sense that they try to not let any of the products go to waste throughout the process. For example, they reuse the water that had the sugars in it to use for future runs through the process and they use the parchment shell as energy in the ovens when heating the bean. Both seem to be focused heavily on quality of their product but they contrast in the sense that Doka would rather have a larger quantity produced at a good quality where Café Britt wants a smaller quantity with great quality. The way that Café Britt goes about ensuring customer satisfaction during the making process is by making quality blends and constantly checking to see if they satisfy the aroma and taste standards they have in place. The way that Café Britt goes about making the process as efficient as possible in regards to the making is by packaging as they receive orders for the coffee. This allows them to not overproduce and become inefficient. On the contrary, Doka Estates produces coffee with long and short term contracts which gives them a good estimate for how much to produce but still leaves room for inefficiencies and leftover product throughout the process. A main takeaway I had today was that Doka was more focused on a good product in a mass production type of scheme where Café Britt looked to create a gourmet product to be sold when ordered.
For Café Britt, I agree with their approach to make a delectable product in smaller quantities compared to other producers. This is because their business plan is more focused on the tourism and souvenir aspects and the coffee and chocolate parts are secondary. However, I believe the reason they make their coffee to such high standards is to propel the sales of the other parts of their business. Because without a high-quality product, the tourism and souvenir part would not work. Also, as I would personally like to see more of a focus on the product since it is of such high standard, I do understand why they have such a focus on tourism and selling other small products. Since they are an international company with locations in numerous countries, it is imperative that they sell not only their product but make a name for themselves in that country. With that in mind, I do understand and agree with their decision to focus on the stores and selling other products such as shirts, magnets, keychains, etc. This is especially true when they are selling in countries that for the most part have comparable quality coffee to that of Café Britt. Overall, with the approach they have adopted, the only thing I would like to see implemented would be a little more focus on the coffee since that is the backbone of their company. But, other than that I agree with what they have done and foresee a bright future for Café Britt.